A review by Nalini Haynes
In 16th century England, Tom Hazard’s mother is accused and tried for witchcraft because Tom doesn’t appear to have aged in the years since pre-pubescence. Witch trials were notorious: suspects were dunked in deep water. If they drowned, they were innocent; if they survived, they were burnt at the stake. Tom’s mother drowned after yelling at him to live.
In 21st century England, Tom is still trying to live after centuries of loneliness and isolation.He’s still trying to find his daughter, Marion, who appeared to have his condition, that of ageing very very slowly. He’s still trying to get over the death of his mother and his wife Rose, his one true love from the 17th century.He’s still trying to work out how to balance the confines of normal society and the society of ‘albas’, people who live a long time, and the society’s manipulative master.
Flashbacks show how Tom’s life has been shaped, his encounters with others of his own kind and his centuries-long search for his daughter and his never-ending battle with depression.
Tom starts to fall in love with a mortal…
How to stop time is a beautiful story that relates to the ordinary human condition, weighting the loss of love and the fear of the loss of love against living without love, battling malaise and outright depression. The eternal facts of life include that power corrupts and old men wielding power are extremely dangerous.
Afterword: I felt there is a strong similarity between How to stop time and The Bone Clocks, in part because both were optimistic about the future while acknowledging the reality of the present. (If you disagree with me about The Bone Clocks being optimistic, we can have a discussion in the comments. However, How to stop time is unambiguously optimistic.)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Format: ebook, 336 pages
Imprint: Canongate and Allen & Unwin